Maybe it’s time for some new traditions, ones that don’t require playing a collective game of sardines with thousands of strangers. It’s tempting to suggest some sort of ceremonial fire; send the old man of the outgoing year the way of the Wicker Man. At least then there could be catharsis greater than a rousing fireworks show.
But destroying all signs of the past feels a bit too much like trying to bury it, and that’s not exactly a positive way to tackle the coming 12 months. Why not move the whole ritual to the spring, as the early Romans did? It’d make outdoor celebrations more pleasant, if not less pointless. Maybe then we’d be more likely to create traditions focused more on the positive around us, and less on drinking ourselves into a stupor.
And it’s time to introduce some new music to the holiday songbook. “All I Want For Christmas is You” became a modern classic almost immediately after it was released in 1994. Why not find a similarly updated song for New Year’s? The sweet nostalgia of “Auld Lang Syne” just rings hollow at a time when inequality is so pronounced and political divisions are so deep. A better anthem for the current moment would be along the lines of indie rock band the Mountain Goats’s classic ballad: “I am going to make it through this year/If it kills me.”
Now that’s a statement that I can toast to.
Meredith Clark is a freelance writer and editor in New York City.